Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not guilty...finally!

Since my husband and I are both teachers and have the summers off, we'll be going back to Italy for most of July and August. And thanks to Barack Obama, I can finally return to Italy guilt-free.

I've traveled to many places--over a dozen countries on 5 continents--and everywhere I go, I'm asked about American politics. Italy is no different. Italians love to ask: What do you think of Bush? What about the war in Iraq? Did Iraq really have weapons of mass destruction?

My answers are always the same:
1. Not much.
2. It's awful.
3. Um, I have no idea.

Everyone always begins my interrogation with a smile. After all, here's their chance to talk to a real live American! And ask anything they want to! Hey, Mario, get a load of this--she's American!

Granted, I'm only one person. But this fact seems to get lost somewhere along the way, and by the end of these questioning firing squads, I somehow feel like everything America has ever done wrong is indirectly my fault. Or the collective fault of every American on the planet. Even when I explain that I've never voted for anyone named Bush, people still shake their heads and challenge me with something like: "Why was he re-elected then?"

Answer: Because the U.S. government lets other people vote, not just Natalie. I know, it's shocking, really, that I don't have more power.

But Italians seemed to have gone ga-ga over Obama, so when I return to Italy this summer, I'll do so without any of the Bush-is-our-president guilt. Unless Obama somehow messes up...(for you Americans, I'm knocking on wood, and for you Italians, I'm touching my nose. All of which is not easy while typing this post).

As the Italians say: Speriamo bene--let's hope for the best.

I already am.


rilla said...

I know how you feel, Natalie. I was living in Australia when Bush got re-elected. I couldn't look anyone in the eye for a loooong time after. Now my head is held high and I'm receiving emails from my friends in Oz talking about how jealous they are of me here! I'm all for this kind of CHANGE ;)

Natalie said...

Hey Rilla, Glad you're getting good feedback from Oz. It's a nice feeling for a change, isn't it??

C.K. said...

It's amazing after so many years of that Bush nightmare to see change actually occuring before our eyes now.

I'm so happy for you guys...and for the entire country and for the inspiration this offers the world!

Our Canadian PM is going to look like such an ass compared to Obama. It seems this is what it's going to take for Canadians to open their eyes to the kind of neanderthal government we currently have and choose progress.

Julie_c said...

I, too, feel the Obama love. And it's so great, to me, that Cameron knows who he is and can feel proud of the country's leader. If Obama is around for 8 years (and I hope he is) then my son will grow up with more optimism, I think, and pride in his country.

somebirdsarelikethat said...

So glad to have stumbled onto your blog...I'm moving to Trieste this August to teach in the international school in Opicina. Was that the school your children attended?

somebirdsarelikethat said...

Natalie, Thanks so much for your encouraging comments! I'd love to learn more about expat life in Trieste...any wisdom is welcome!

Natalie said...

Thanks, C.K.! And about your PM...maybe Obama's got a Canadian brother...? ;-)

Hey Julie,
I'm glad Cameron is excited about it all--I wonder if he'll remember this election. I know my 3-year-old won't, although on Inauguration Day, he walked around punching his little fist in the air and yell, "Obama!"

Welcome, somebirdsarelikethat! Yes, my kids went to I.S.T, but only for the year before we knew we were moving back to the U.S. I taught 4th grade there last year, and Kindergarten from 1993-95. You'll LOVE Trieste!

Claudia said...

eheheh i smiled while reading your post, you've drawed a perfect portrait of the mtypical medium italian approaching americans :-D I loved the "speriamo bene..."!!!!
I really like your blog, what about a link exchange with my city blog?
let me know... buona serata!

Mary Witzl said...

How did I miss this?

This is EXACTLY how I feel, living abroad. I have gotten so tired of having to explain the policies of politicians I neither voted for nor support. It's great to have a president who is literate and thoughtful!

Marissa Doyle said...

Oh gosh, I got this back in the early eighties as a college student visiting England and Scotland...remove "Bush" and insert "Reagan", and you've got the same thing. It used to drive me nuts, because I hadn't even been old enough to vote in the 1980election, but somehow my 20 year old friends and I were made to feel the ills of the world were our fault...I guess nothing changes!

Natalie said...

Ciao Claudia! Thanks for visiting. I've been meaning to add a list of links to other expat blogs, and when I do, I'll be sure to add yours.

Mary and Marissa, it's funny how many expats feel this way, like we're 100% responsible for whatever our government does. I hadn't realized how long I'd felt this way until...I didn't! Hope things get easier for you, too. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie, I just found your blog. Wonder what you've been up to since January? We have a lot in common! I'm moving to Trieste in August - and lived there from 1990-1994. I've been writing about Trieste then and now on my own blog (Tonya's Blog on wordpress). Haven't managed to follow your posts properly yet to work out your trajectory but I'm raising a glass of Prosecco to you!